Mapper since: June 12, 2013 | Contributor terms: Accepted almost 4 years ago
I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and an Auditor living and working in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. In 2013, I got interested in improving the map information for my area (Avalon Peninsula) and attempted to update Google’s maps. However, the process was difficult and prone to errors due to the tools and the oversight structure. I looked about and found the OpenStreetMap project in May of that year, just as ID was being launched. I made an account, quickly accepted the licensing agreement, and began contributing.
My work has been situated in North America exclusively; I first began by focusing on the Town of Paradise where I live. As many mappers are aware, roads in Canada and the US are largely sourced from imported data from the Government. Specifically, the CANVEC data from the Department of Natural Resources in Canada and the TIGER data from the US Census Bureau in the United States. This means that much of the road network is already in place, which could tend to discourage some users. But as I looked at the roads, I noticed that while they were present, they were grossly inaccurate when observed locally, especially when compared to the satellite data. I decided to begin aligning the roads to the satellite imagery, refining shapes and reducing nodes as applicable. As I did this, combing each road in Paradise, I noticed missing information – missing roads, missing restrictions, missing service roads and so forth. My conclusion was that, regardless of the vastness of the information currently present, it can be improved. The result has been my primary method of contribution to OSM – refinement of roadways.
I have expanded this to error corrections, the addition of buildings and landuse polygons, and visual designation of local features. These changes are always made with an eye to the original contribution, especially with regard to “armchair” mapping – one must always be careful not to argue with local knowledge. Fortunately, road position refinements or the presence of buildings has not been (to date) argued with, owing to the nature of these types of items (long term) as opposed to, for example, the presence of a particular business in a strip mall.
To date, I have uploaded over 3,200 changes to the Map in various areas across North America.